Our low-cost ways to use less energy
Government and suppliers need to be pressured to keep our energy affordable. But there are also things we can each do to keep down costs. Here’s a round-up of tried and tested energy-saving tips from local people. Share your own ideas in the Comments.
From Ovesco Energy Champions:
A key part of our work is providing advice on reducing energy and improving efficiency around the home. There are some measures which will have a cost involved, but also some things homes and businesses can do for free.
Cutting energy use
- Turn your heating thermostat down by 1 degree – this can save approximately £105 per year*
- Delay turning on your heating in autumn and switch it off a little earlier in spring
- Turn off lights when not in use – this can save up to £20 per year
- Turn appliances off rather than leaving them on standby – this can save up to £55 per year
- Turn off your washing machine and dishwasher at the plug
- Where possible use a microwave to cook food as this costs far less than cooking with an oven. (A baked potato will cost 3p to cook in the microwave compared to 27p in the oven.)
- Don’t overfill the kettle – this can save around £11 per year. Boil what you need and also use lids on saucepans when using the hob
- Use radiator valves to turn off heating in unused rooms.
*Cold homes can have an impact on health. So for those with medical conditions, only lower the temperature of your home if it is safe to do so.
Keeping the heat in
- Draught proof your home using simple DIY measures such as draft excluders. Insulation foil fitted behind radiators can help reflect back 95% of heat!
- Check your windows. If they are single glazed consider double glazing, secondary glazing or low-cost film-glazing over the winter.
- Insulate your home with loft and cavity wall insulation. But also make sure you have the correct ventilation in your house to prevent damp.
*Cost savings are based on a typical three-bedroom, gas-heated home in Great Britain, using a gas price of 7.4p/kWh and electricity price of 28.3p/kWh (current energy prices would increase these costs).
From Jill Goulder:
Insulation, insulation, insulation! It’s cheap and effective. Draught-proofing of windows – makes a huge difference. Homebase have a good array of Stormguard products. Sash windows? In winter when you’re not using them, put Blutak where the sash cords come through on the sides.
Put carrier bags full of scrunched-up newspaper up your chimney (when not using it!). Chimneys are carefully designed to extract heat from your house, and blocking them will make a huge difference.
Watch my video about magnetic-strip secondary glazing and see my website about my low-energy Lewes house here: http://www.jillgoulder.plus.com/green/.
From Ann Link:
A smart meter showing your gas consumption is helpful. I did insist on having separate switches when there is more than one light in a room so I don’t inevitably switch too much on.
From Nick Rouse:
Make sure every radiator has a thermostat and you are using them correctly as this can save you a lot of money.
From Imogen Makepeace:
We have turned off our gas boiler and relight it when needing a shower (the pilot light can cost about £90 a year). It also means that we avoid the wastefulness of casually turning on the hot tap out of habit when doing a brief washing of hands or a mug, which charges up the boiler only to be turned off again almost immediately.
From Jon Gunson:
A curtain over the front door. Especially if your front door opens into the living room. And putting lids on saucepans.
From Sue Fleming:
Wear layers of clothes for ‘personal insulation!’ Start, ideally, with fine merino wool (found some cheap in Aldi) or thermal vests, tee shirts then long-sleeved tee shirt, wool jumper, fleece or quilted sleeveless jacket. Leggings under trousers and thick socks help keep legs warm. Reading, watching TV, nothing like a blanket or my favourite shawl for feeling cosy. If it’s really cold – I resort to fingerless gloves and a hat!
I also don’t expect to keep the whole house at a comfortable temperature. I heat the room I’m in and shut doors. Even though we have secondary glazing, I draw curtains at night – I found thick, lined ones in a charity shop.
Got a tip we’ve missed? Share it in the ‘Comments’ below.
It really is possible to live very well without hot water on tap. I have not used my gas boiler to heat water for over a decade and don’t feel the need. I have an electric shower and I boil a kettle for washing up. I have also never felt the need for a tumble drier or a dishwasher. I put my gas central heating on for a while if I feel cold, then turn it off again when I’ve warmed up. I only have radiators on in the lounge, kitchen and bathroom. I never use the timer. I wear warm clothes in cold weather and only heat the rooms that I use. My gas and electricity bills are very much lower than those I hear about in the media!
I have a 1.4 watt LED fridge bulb ( may need a bayonet cap adaptor) in my bedside lamp.
Check your gas boiler’s heating flow temperature. It’s often set to 70 deg or more which reduces efficiency to 80%. If you can set to 60 deg the boiler will be able to condense properly, cycle less and get closer to 90% efficiency. The house will stay just as warm and use 10% less gas!